FIRST REGULAR SESSION
HOUSE BILL NO. 418
93RD GENERAL ASSEMBLY
INTRODUCED BY REPRESENTATIVES DUSENBERG (Sponsor), WILSON (119), THRELKELD, BIVINS, SATER, DONNELLY, LeVOTA AND PAGE (Co-sponsors).
Read 1st time February 2, 2005 and copies ordered printed.
STEPHEN S. DAVIS, Chief Clerk
To repeal sections 210.104, 210.106, 210.107, 307.178, and 476.385, RSMo, and to enact in lieu thereof four new sections relating to child safety restraints, with penalty provisions and an effective date.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the state of Missouri, as follows:
Section A. Sections 210.104, 210.106, 210.107, 307.178, and 476.385, RSMo, are repealed and four new sections enacted in lieu thereof, to be known as sections 210.106, 307.178, 307.179, and 476.385, to read as follows:
210.106. In no event shall failure to employ a child passenger restraint system required by section [210.104] 307.179 provide the basis for a claim of civil liability or negligence or contributory negligence of any person in any action for damages by reason of injury sustained by a child; nor shall such failure to employ such child passenger restraint system be admissible as evidence in the trial of any civil action.
307.178. 1. As used in this section, the term "passenger car" means every motor vehicle designed for carrying ten persons or less and used for the transportation of persons; except that, the term "passenger car" shall not include motorcycles, motorized bicycles, motor tricycles and trucks with a licensed gross weight of twelve thousand pounds or more.
2. Each driver, except persons employed by the United States Postal Service while performing duties for that federal agency which require the operator to service postal boxes from their vehicles, or which require frequent entry into and exit from their vehicles, and front seat passenger of a passenger car manufactured after January 1, 1968, operated on a street or highway in this state, and persons less than eighteen years of age operating or riding in a truck, as defined in section 301.010, RSMo, on a street or highway of this state shall wear a properly adjusted and fastened safety belt that meets federal National Highway, Transportation and Safety Act requirements[; except that, a child less than four years of age shall be protected as required] or as provided in section [210.104, RSMo] 307.179. No person shall be stopped, inspected, or detained solely to determine compliance with this subsection. The provisions of this section shall not be applicable to persons who have a medical reason for failing to have a seat belt fastened about their body, nor shall the provisions of this section be applicable to persons while operating or riding a motor vehicle being used in agricultural work-related activities. Noncompliance with this subsection shall not constitute probable cause for violation of any other provision of law.
3. Each driver of a motor vehicle transporting a child four years of age or more[, but less than sixteen years of age,] shall secure the child in a properly adjusted and fastened [safety belt] restraint under section 307.179.
4. In any action to recover damages arising out of the ownership, common maintenance or operation of a motor vehicle, failure to wear a safety belt in violation of this section shall not be considered evidence of comparative negligence. Failure to wear a safety belt in violation of this section may be admitted to mitigate damages, but only under the following circumstances:
(1) Parties seeking to introduce evidence of the failure to wear a safety belt in violation of this section must first introduce expert evidence proving that a failure to wear a safety belt contributed to the injuries claimed by plaintiff;
(2) If the evidence supports such a finding, the trier of fact may find that the plaintiff's failure to wear a safety belt in violation of this section contributed to the plaintiff's claimed injuries, and may reduce the amount of the plaintiff's recovery by an amount not to exceed one percent of the damages awarded after any reductions for comparative negligence.
5. Each driver who violates the provisions of subsection 2 or  7 of this section is guilty of an infraction for which a fine not to exceed ten dollars may be imposed. All other provisions of law and court rules to the contrary notwithstanding, no court costs shall be imposed on any person due to a violation of this section. In no case shall points be assessed against any person, pursuant to section 302.302, RSMo, for a violation of this section.
6. The department of [public safety shall initiate and develop] transportation shall develop and initiate a program of public information to develop understanding of, and ensure compliance with, the provisions of this section. The department of [public safety] transportation shall evaluate the effectiveness of this section and shall include a report of its findings in the annual evaluation report on its highway safety plan that it submits to NHTSA and FHWA pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 402.
7. If there are more persons than there are seat belts in the enclosed area of a motor vehicle, then the [driver and] passengers [are not in violation of this section] who are unable to wear seat belts, shall sit in the area behind the front seat of the motor vehicle unless the motor vehicle is designed only for a front-seated area. This subsection shall not apply to passengers who are accompanying a driver of a motor vehicle who is licensed pursuant to section 302.178, RSMo.
307.179. 1. As used in this section, the following terms shall mean:
(1) "Child booster seat", a seating system which meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards set forth in 49 C.F.R. 571.213, as amended, that is designed to elevate a child to properly sit in a federally approved safety belt system;
(2) "Child passenger restraint system", a seating system which meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards set forth in 49 C.F.R. 571.213, as amended, and which is either permanently affixed to a motor vehicle or is affixed to such vehicle by a safety belt or a universal attachment system;
(3) "Driver", a person who is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle.
2. Every person transporting a child under the age of sixteen years shall be responsible, when transporting such child in a motor vehicle operated by that person on the streets or highways of this state, for providing for the protection of such child as follows:
(1) Children less than four years of age shall be properly secured in a child passenger restraint system appropriate for that child, according to the child safety restraint system and the vehicle manufacturers' instructions;
(2) Children four through five years of age shall be properly secured in a child passenger restraint system or booster seat appropriate for that child, according to the child safety restraint system and the vehicle manufacturers' instructions;
(3) Children at least six years of age shall be properly secured by a vehicle safety belt, child passenger restraint system, or booster seat, according to the child safety restraint system and the vehicle manufacturers' instructions;
(4) A child weighing more than forty pounds, who would otherwise be required to be secured in a booster seat, may be transported in the back seat of a motor vehicle while wearing only a lap belt if the back seat of the motor vehicle is not equipped with a combination lap and shoulder belt for booster seat installation.
3. Any person who violates this section is guilty of an infraction and, upon conviction, may be punished by a fine of not more than twenty-five dollars and court costs. In no case shall points be assessed against any person, pursuant to section 302.302, RSMo, for violation of this section. If a person receives a citation for violating this section, the charges shall be dismissed or withdrawn if the person prior to or at his or her hearing provides evidence of acquisition of a child passenger restraint system or child booster seat which is satisfactory to the court or the party responsible for prosecuting the person's citation.
4. The provisions of this section shall not apply to any public carrier for hire or to school buses as defined in section 301.010, RSMo, when transporting students four years of age or older.
5. Every car rental agency doing business within Missouri shall inform its customers of the requirements of this section and shall provide for rental of an appropriate child passenger safety restraint system.
6. The department of transportation shall develop and initiate a program of public information to develop understanding of, and ensure compliance with the provisions of this section. The department of transportation may promulgate rules and regulations for the enforcement of this section. Any rule or portion of a rule, as that term is defined in section 536.010, RSMo, that is created under the authority delegated in this section shall become effective only if it complies with and is subject to all of the provisions of chapter 536, RSMo, and, if applicable, section 536.028, RSMo. This section and chapter 536, RSMo, are nonseverable and if any of the powers vested with the general assembly pursuant to chapter 536, RSMo, to review, to delay the effective date or to disapprove and annul a rule are subsequently held unconstitutional, then the grant of rulemaking authority and any rule proposed or adopted after August 28, 2005, shall be invalid and void.
476.385. 1. The judges of the supreme court may appoint a committee consisting of at least seven associate circuit judges, who shall meet en banc and establish and maintain a schedule of fines to be paid for violations of sections [210.104,] 577.070[,] and 577.073, RSMo, and chapters 252, 301, 302, 304, 306, 307 and 390, RSMo, with such fines increasing in proportion to the severity of the violation. The associate circuit judges of each county may meet en banc and adopt the schedule of fines and participation in the centralized bureau pursuant to this section. Notice of such adoption and participation shall be given in the manner provided by supreme court rule. Upon order of the supreme court, the associate circuit judges of each county may meet en banc and establish and maintain a schedule of fines to be paid for violations of municipal ordinances for cities, towns and villages electing to have violations of its municipal ordinances heard by associate circuit judges, pursuant to section 479.040, RSMo; and for traffic court divisions established pursuant to section 479.500, RSMo. The schedule of fines adopted for violations of municipal ordinances may be modified from time to time as the associate circuit judges of each county en banc deem advisable. No fine established pursuant to this subsection may exceed the maximum amount specified by statute or ordinance for such violation.
2. In no event shall any schedule of fines adopted pursuant to this section include offenses involving the following:
(1) Any violation resulting in personal injury or property damage to another person;
(2) Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated or under the influence of intoxicants or drugs;
(3) Operating a vehicle with a counterfeited, altered, suspended or revoked license;
(4) Fleeing or attempting to elude an officer.
3. There shall be a centralized bureau to be established by supreme court rule in order to accept pleas of not guilty or guilty and payments of fines and court costs for violations of the laws and ordinances described in subsection 1 of this section, made pursuant to a schedule of fines established pursuant to this section. The centralized bureau shall collect, with any plea of guilty and payment of a fine, all court costs which would have been collected by the court of the jurisdiction from which the violation originated.
4. If a person elects not to contest the alleged violation, the person shall send payment in the amount of the fine and any court costs established for the violation to the centralized bureau. Such payment shall be payable to the "central violations bureau", shall be made by mail or in any other manner established by the centralized bureau, and shall constitute a plea of guilty, waiver of trial and a conviction for purposes of section 302.302, RSMo, and for purposes of imposing any collateral consequence of a criminal conviction provided by law. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the prosecutor shall not be required to sign any information, ticket or indictment if disposition is made pursuant to this subsection. In the event that any payment is made pursuant to this section by credit card or similar method, the centralized bureau may charge an additional fee in order to reflect any transaction cost, surcharge or fee imposed on the recipient of the credit card payment by the credit card company.
5. If a person elects to plead not guilty, such person shall send the plea of not guilty to the centralized bureau. The bureau shall send such plea and request for trial to the prosecutor having original jurisdiction over the offense. Any trial shall be conducted at the location designated by the court. The clerk of the court in which the case is to be heard shall notify in writing such person of the date certain for the disposition of such charges. The prosecutor shall not be required to sign any information, ticket or indictment until the commencement of any proceeding by the prosecutor with respect to the notice of violation.
6. In courts adopting a schedule of fines pursuant to this section, any person receiving a notice of violation pursuant to this section shall also receive written notification of the following:
(1) The fine and court costs established pursuant to this section for the violation or information regarding how the person may obtain the amount of the fine and court costs for the violation;
(2) That the person must respond to the notice of violation by paying the prescribed fine and court costs, or pleading not guilty and appearing at trial, and that other legal penalties prescribed by law may attach for failure to appear and dispose of the violation. The supreme court may modify the suggested forms for uniform complaint and summons for use in courts adopting the procedures provided by this section, in order to accommodate such required written notifications.
7. Any moneys received in payment of fines and court costs pursuant to this section shall not be considered to be state funds, but shall be held in trust by the centralized bureau for benefit of those persons or entities entitled to receive such funds pursuant to this subsection. All amounts paid to the centralized bureau shall be maintained by the centralized bureau, invested in the manner required of the state treasurer for state funds by sections 30.240, 30.250, 30.260 and 30.270, RSMo, and disbursed as provided by the constitution and laws of this state. Any interest earned on such fund shall be payable to the director of the department of revenue for deposit into a revolving fund to be established pursuant to this subsection. The state treasurer shall be the custodian of the revolving fund, and shall make disbursements, as allowed by lawful appropriations, only to the judicial branch of state government for goods and services related to the administration of the judicial system.
8. Any person who receives a notice of violation subject to this section who fails to dispose of such violation as provided by this section shall be guilty of failure to appear provided by section 544.665, RSMo; and may be subject to suspension of driving privileges in the manner provided by section 302.341, RSMo. The centralized bureau shall notify the appropriate prosecutor of any person who fails to either pay the prescribed fine and court costs, or plead not guilty and request a trial within the time allotted by this section, for purposes of application of section 544.665, RSMo. The centralized bureau shall also notify the department of revenue of any failure to appear subject to section 302.341, RSMo, and the department shall thereupon suspend the license of the driver in the manner provided by section 302.341, RSMo, as if notified by the court.
9. In addition to the remedies provided by subsection 8 of this section, the centralized bureau and the courts may use the remedies provided by sections 488.010 to 488.020, RSMo, for the collection of court costs payable to courts, in order to collect fines and court costs for violations subject to this section.
[210.104. 1. Every person transporting a child under the age of four years shall be responsible, when transporting such child in a motor vehicle operated by that person on the streets or highways of this state, for providing for the protection of such child. Such child shall be protected by a child passenger restraint system approved by the department of public safety.
2. Any person who violates this section is guilty of an infraction and, upon conviction, may be punished by a fine of not more than twenty-five dollars and court costs.
3. The provisions of sections 210.104 to 210.107 shall not apply to any public carrier for hire.]
[210.107. The department of public safety shall initiate and develop a program of public information to develop understanding of, and ensure compliance with the provisions of sections 210.104 to 210.107. The department of public safety shall, within thirty days of September 28, 1983, promulgate standards for the performance, design, and installation of passenger restraint systems for children under four years of age in accordance with federal motor vehicle safety standards and shall approve those systems which meet such standards. No rule or portion of a rule promulgated under the authority of sections 210.104 to 210.107 shall become effective unless it has been promulgated pursuant to the provisions of section 536.024, RSMo.]
Section B. The enactment of section 307.179, the repeal and reenactment of sections 210.106, 307.178, and 476.385, and the repeal of sections 210.104 and 210.107 of section A of this act shall become effective January 1, 2006.